Beats & Pieces Big Band – Black Box, Belfast

AND IT WAS ALL going so well… But by two numbers in, the bass player’s bridge had collapsed and when they stopped to try to fix it the fire alarm...

Published: 8 Nov 2019. Updated: 5 days.

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AND IT WAS ALL going so well…

But by two numbers in, the bass player’s bridge had collapsed and when they stopped to try to fix it the fire alarm went off.

Not exactly the impact Beats & Pieces had planned to make on their first visit to Ireland but by the time the show was back on the road again, bassist Stewart Wilson had switched to electric and this exuberant 14-piece Manchester band were providing the only fire in the house.

Now in their 11th year, which is remarkable in itself, this was the first of two Irish dates, the second being Limerick Jazz Festival the following night. Under the direction of composer/conductor Ben Cottrell, B&P are, as they say themselves, not so much a big band as a band that happens to be big. Indeed they are worthy successors to those last great disrupters of convention, Loose Tubes. There is, indeed, a loose energy to their sound. It’s powered by a floor-shaking rhythm section that’s heavy on the electronics and there are big, uplifting ensemble sections (played with not a music stand in sight).

There are also terrific soloists, in particular Nick Walters and Graham South on trumpets, Dee Byrne on alto and Anthony Brown on tenor, who featured on ‘Broken,’ which showed the band’s softer side. Other stand-out numbers included ‘Woody,’ with its second line New Orleans beat, a fast and ferocious ‘Jazzwalk’ and the touching ‘Fairytale,’ which could have been written for a North of England brass band.

Well done to the indefatigable Moving on Music for providing this exciting experience.

— Keith Baker

photo: Michael Bonner

Tags: Live reviews